Today’s song comes from the Christian Back Street Boys but a more mellow version. Beyond the Blue combines the smooth rhythm of blues with pop. When I listened to I Know You Know for the first time in years, a conversation from the Bible came to my mind. Jesus was having a conversation with a Pharisee when Nicodemus becomes sarcastic, triggering Jesus to share a famous passage from the Bible.
Jesus answered him, I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, that unless a person is born again (anew, from above), he cannot ever see (know, be acquainted with, and experience) the kingdom of God. 4 Nicodemus said to Him, How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter his mother’s womb again and be born? – John 3:3-4
The song I Know You Know is like a conversation with a stubborn friend. They know you’re right, but don’t want to admit it. The lyrics of I Know You Know suggests that an individual knows the truth about God but is afraid to verbalize it. If you want to live your life beyond the blue of depression, boldly proclaim that Jesus is Lord, Romans 10:9-11.
Audacity, boldness, and valor are words associated with courage. While the average lifespan of a male in the United States of America is 76 years of age, few ever demonstrate 30 seconds of courage while on earth. Fear of rejection, peer pressure, and political correctness keep most people confined, under wraps, afraid to go against the flow.
From that time forth Jesus began [clearly] to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders and the high priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised from death. Then Peter took Him aside to speak to Him privately and began to reprove and charge Him sharply, saying, God forbid, Lord! This must never happen to You! 23 But Jesus turned away from Peter and said to him, Get behind Me, Satan! You are in My way [an offense and a hindrance and a snare to Me]; for you are minding what partakes not of the nature and quality of God, but of men, Matthew 16:21-24.
Although some may talk a good game, when the opportunity to be courageous arrives, rarely does an individual rise to the challenge. Take Peter for example, the rock upon which God will build the church, Matthew 16:18. When Jesus was about to be arrested early Good Friday morning, Peter took up his sword. However, later that night when asked if he knew Jesus, Peter did the opposite with 30 seconds of cowardice.
You stubborn and stiff-necked people, still heathen and uncircumcised in heart and ears, you are always actively resisting the Holy Spirit. As your forefathers [were], so you [are and so you do]! 52 Which of the prophets did your forefathers not persecute? And they slew those who proclaimed beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, Whom you now have betrayed and murdered—53 You who received the Law as it was ordained and set in order and delivered by angels, and [yet] you did not obey it! – Acts 7:51-53
Despite Peter’s epic failure, there was one apostle who displayed 30 seconds of courage. Instead of recanting his faith in Jesus, Stephen gave a moving speech before being stoned to death. Oddly enough, the religious leader who gave the order to have Stephen killed is the soon to be apostle Paul. If it wasn’t for Stephen’s 30 seconds of courage, Paul’s life may have taken a different path. May the power of the Holy Spirit inspire you to demonstrate 30 seconds of courage this Easter Season.
Approach refers to draw closer; to come very near to. Prior to coming to faith, I viewed God as the great disciplinarian. Growing up in a Roman Catholic Church, God’s grace, love, and mercy was foreign to me. Thus, I developed an Old Testament perspective, one of judgment and wrath. I never felt good enough or worthy to approach God. Until joining a Methodist Youth Group in high school, I couldn’t comprehend an unreserved approach to God.
In Whom, because of our faith in Him, we dare to have the boldness (courage and confidence) of free access (an unreserved approach to God with freedom and without fear). 13 So I ask you not to lose heart [not to faint or become despondent through fear] at what I am suffering in your behalf. [Rather glory in it] for it is an honor to you. 14 For this reason [seeing the greatness of this plan by which you are built together in Christ], I bow my knees before the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Ephesians 3:12-14.
As the apostle Paul began to meet other Jewish converts to Christianity, a similar mindset prevented many from drawing near to God. The passage above serves as encouragement, opening the door to what is possible for those who believe in Jesus. Instead of allowing doubt to reign in your head, dare to have the boldness, courage, and confidence to approach God. When the presence of fear is removed, an unreserved approach to God is possible.
For we do not have a High Priest Who is unable to understand and sympathize and have a shared feeling with our weaknesses and infirmities and liability to the assaults of temptation, but One Who has been tempted in every respect as we are, yet without sinning. 16 Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God’s unmerited favor to us sinners), that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find grace to help in good time for every need [appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it], Hebrews 4:15-16.
The passage above connects the Old Testament with the realization of the Messiah in the New Testament. Rather than continue in the ways of Mosaic Law to atone for sin, the author of Hebrews refers to Jesus as a great High Priest. This symbolism fulfills the words of Moses in Leviticus 17:11 which grants access to the throne of God. Part of the good news about Jesus Christ is that those who believe are granted permission to an unreserved approach to God. Take advantage of this new access, Romans 5:1-2.
Boldness is often associated with audacity, bravery, courage, and dauntlessness. This intrepid spirit shows no signs of fear, willing to face whatever barrier, challenge or obstacle that is in their way. While teenagers who possess this trait may be labeled as a rebel for not conforming to the rigid standards in public schools, boldness is appreciated by other adults who are afraid of getting into trouble. In a sense, the bold speak what the meek are scared to verbalize.
The wicked flee when no man pursues them, but the [uncompromisingly] righteous are bold as a lion. 2 When a land transgresses, it has many rulers, but when the ruler is a man of discernment, understanding, and knowledge, its stability will long continue, Proverbs 28:1-2.
King Solomon uses an interesting analogy in the passage above. The bold are compared to a courageous lion who stands up for what is right. As cities and states prepare for a second lock down, some citizens have had enough of cowering in fear. With their businesses and life long dreams on the verge of collapsing, a spirit of boldness is empowering individuals to take a stand. Despite threats of fines and or jail, these people can no longer compromise what they believe to be right and true.
And now, Lord, observe their threats and grant to Your bond servants [full freedom] to declare Your message fearlessly, Acts 4:29.
During the first century, Jesus’ disciples were under attack, prohibited to publicly teach about their resurrected leader. John and Peter were arrested by religious leaders for preaching the resurrection of Christ. The next day Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit as he defended their position in front of magistrates, elders and scribes who assembled in Jerusalem. Upon their release, Peter was energized by the stand they took, encouraging more believers to embrace a season of boldness.
The origin of the first amendment, giving freedom of speech to citizens, dates back to 1789. James Madison proposed this along with 11 other amendments in the House of Representatives. Freedom of speech supports the freedom of an individual to articulate their opinions and ideas without fear of retaliation, censorship, or legal sanction. In recent years, freedom of speech has been attacked as social media sites are now silencing any person who questions what society deems to be appropriate and acceptable. A recent You-Tube by 2 doctors from California was shut down earlier this week despite using raw data from their own COVID-19 resaearch
And now, Lord, observe their threats and grant to Your bond servants [full freedom] to declare Your message fearlessly, Acts 4:29.
The biblical origin of spiritual freedom of speech dates back to the first century. A well known physician served as a historian, traveling with the apostle Paul during several as his missionary journeys. After being restored by Jesus in John 21, Peter is filled with a spirit of boldness which inspired Luke’s words above. Recognizing the threats made by Jewish religious leaders, Peter encourages believers in Jesus to speak boldly. Instead of being afraid, speak from your heart by sharing the good news about Jesus Christ will full freedom.
Who risked their lives [endangering their very necks] for my life. To them not only I but also all the churches among the Gentiles give thanks, Romans 16:4.
The apostle Paul exercised his faith regardless of how others responded. At one point Paul was stoned and left for dead, yet supporters dragged Paul’s body away, saving and reviving him. At the end of his letter to the church at Rome, Paul personally thanks those individuals who risked their own lives. These people weren’t afraid to defend, protect and support Paul regardless of what religious and societal leaders thought of the Jesus movement. While freedom of speech isn’t what it use to be, may the Holy Spirit direct and guide your words as you boldly exercise full freedom.
If you live along the Atlantic Coast of Florida, your life is interrupted for eight months every year. Any condo, house or trailer within walking distance of a beach lives under a strict ordinance. Florida’s state Game and Wild Life Department restricts outdoor landscaping lights of any kind. If you are wondering why, this law has been enacted to save the lives of future sea turtles. During the hatching process, lights draw the attention of newly born turtles. To ensure baby sea turtles make it back to the ocean, local authorities constantly warn residence about outdoor lighting. While hatchings usually don’t occur until May, the state of Florida has taken extreme measures for eight months to save the lives of baby sea turtles.
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations,” Jeremiah 1:5.
Meanwhile, the states of New York and Virginia have made national headlines for a different reason this week. A 2019 New York abortion bill has extended a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy from the third trimester all the way leading up to giving birth. A similar abortion bill in Virginia was tabled after losing five to three during a committee meeting vote. The Virginia legislation is said to be more humane, allowing woman to give birth, resuscitate the child if necessary, keep this newborn warm before ending it’s life. Each of these bills give doctor’s, medical staff and women giving birth the authority to abort whenever deemed necessary.
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them, Psalm 139:13-16.
These contrasting stories lead me to one question, whose life is worth saving? Do Americans care more about pets and turtles than newborn babies? Furthermore, how did this country reach this point? How can we devalue the miracle of giving birth while giving more rights to animals without a soul? Maybe it’s too late for this discussion, but I care too much about this country to see it wander into an immoral abyss. I’m not sure what the answer is, but prayer is definitely one of the solutions. May the Lord have mercy on the United States as future voters contemplate which leaders will have the boldness, courage and fortitude to steer this nation back where God desires.
Unless you are living in a bubble, it’s obvious cultural changes have impacted modern vocabulary. Gone are the days of thinking before opening your mouth. Rather, a new boldness have inspired many to verbalize whatever comes to mind regardless of who is listening including children.
“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty,” Isaiah 6:5.
The concept of unclean lips is nothing new, referred to by a prophet several thousand years ago. One of the byproducts of unwholesome language is that it often spreads like a cancer influencing previously innocent individuals. In some cases, unclean lips can be passed from one generation to the next.
Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving, Ephesians 5:4.
The apostle Paul came across some choice language as well. Although he does not specify what defines unclean lips, Paul creates three categories: filthy, foolish and crude jokes. During a visit to Ephesus, Paul urged church members to drown out negative words with an out pouring of thanksgiving. While you may not change the people around you, may a spirit of thanksgiving inspire you to encourage, thank and uplift those in your spheres of influence.
New Year Eve celebrations vary depending upon your age, number of friends and preparations. Opting for a smaller crowd this year, I spent a quiet evening with an old friend and his wife. Instead of playing games, we watched War Room for the first time, a 2015 film which illustrates how prayer or a lack there of influences the life of a family. Several scenes struck a nerve, convicting me that I need to prepare a room for 2016.
But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you, Matthew 6:6.
An elderly woman reaches out to a real estate agent trying to sell her home. Seizing the moment, Miss Clara played by Karen Abercrombie introduces Priscilla played by Elizabeth Jordan to the concept of a war room. This spiritual mentor challenges Priscilla to find a secluded room, without distractions so that an intimate prayer life with God can begin. However, until the stage is set with a broken heart desperate for change, most war rooms remain powerless, unable to shift the momentum of losing battles within our lives.
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you, James 4:7.
In the past, prayer didn’t get my attention until I began to see answers to my cries for help. Yet, this is just the beginning. War rooms come to life as individuals learn to submit their lives to God and resist the devil. If you reach this point, your mind will be transformed, resulting in boldness as you reclaim your relationship with God, home and family back from the control of demonic influences. Although you may not be as successful as Miss Clara, this world is in need of prayer warriors willing to go to battle daily in their war rooms.
The recent commercials sponsored by Credit Karma suggest that getting a free credit score empowers individuals with boldness. Thus, whether you are buying a car or house, you should always ask for more. Perhaps the meek have a bargaining chip, yet reality is a far cry from Hollywood.
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you, ” Matthew 7:7.
Boldness can be manifested within Type A personalities, conceived through desperation or develop overtime through confidence. In the case of a criminal, hanging on a cross next to Jesus, it didn’t take long to realize He was different. Whether it was listening to nearby conversations or something inside his heart, a sense of urgency grew. When the time presented itself, this unworthy soul asked for forgiveness and a place in paradise.
For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened, Matthew 7:8.
One of the areas where I am not bold enough is when I pray. During a discussion with followers prior to his death, Jesus unveiled a secret about prayer. “You don’t have because you haven’t asked!” This dilemma applies to many who are currently experiencing a life without much joy. Therefore, if you want to make a bold request, approach God’s throne of grace with an expecting heart, believing that you too will experience paradise.
Fright, horror and terror are words synonymous with someone who is afraid. Whether these emotions stem from witnessing a shocking event, embedded from watching a scary movie or implanted by nightmares from the Devil, rarely is fear associated with something positive. Nonetheless, a holy fear can transform this word into favor from God.
But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats. – 1 Peter 3:14
One of the most overlooked messages of Easter is how a bunch of weak men who went into hiding, afraid for their lives were transformed by the Holy Spirit to become martyrs of the faith. Fear caused Peter to deny knowing Jesus three times in Matthew 26:69-75. Yet, some how a reverent fear turned Peter from a scaredy cat into a bold apostle who was crucified upside down, feeling unworthy to be killed in the same manner of his Savior.
Blessed are all who fear the LORD, who walk in obedience to him. You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours. – Psalm 128:1-2
Despite my years of access to the Bible, opportunities to attend mega-churches in the past and relationships with God fearing believers over the course of my life, I still quake and quiver like a little girl when pressed by the world. Similar to the apostles, we all need a Pentecost moment, Acts 2:1-4, where fear is discarded by a boldness from God’s mighty counselor, Acts 4:29. Then and only then will fear transform into favor from God.